Travel Black Book: Land of snow

Travel Black Book: Land of snow

Hokkaido is actress Nikki Muller's hot spot because of its cold weather and famous Sapporo Snow Festival.

Who: Nikki Muller, 28, television presenter and actress. The Swiss-Filipino Fly Entertainment artiste has lived in Singapore for three years.

Favourite place: Hokkaido

Why: I'm always up for an adventure, which could come in many forms, and extreme temperature changes are exhilarating. Living in Singapore means I often crave the cold, the snow and the crisp air. My most recent trip to Hokkaido was in February. I wanted to spend Valentine's Day with my boyfriend, Phil Humber, in an adventurous way, and to attend the Sapporo Snow Festival. Besides Sapporo, I also visited Kushiro, where Lake Akan is.

Best place to stay

I recommend staying at the Cross Hotel (2 Chome-23 Kita 2 Jonishi, Chuo Ward, Sapporo, Hokkaido, tel: +81-11-272-0010) in Sapporo, especially if you're in town for the Snow Festival. The Odori and Susukino sites of the festival, as well as Hokkaido Winter Food Park, are all within walking distance from the hotel. Transport is also provided from the hotel to the festival's other sites.

The Cross Hotel is affordable, very modern, clean and a five- to seven-minute walk from the JR Sapporo Station. The train ride from the New Chitose airport to the JR Sapporo Station takes about 40 minutes. It's important to book your hotel early because people fly in from all over Japan for this festival and almost every hotel is full. Rooms at the Cross Hotel start from 12,000 yen (S$147) a night.

Event to bookmark

The Sapporo Snow Festival is a week-long festival in February. Sapporo is a fun and vibrant city, but not as crowded or overwhelming as Tokyo. I really just wanted to go there for the snow, the ice sculptures and, of course, the freshest seafood Japan has to offer.

The festival is spread across the city and divided into different zones. The Odori site, for example, has the Sapporo TV tower, where you can ice skate.

You must also try traditional Hokkaido fare, such as the amazing seafood and grilled meats, at the Hokkaido food park, which stretches several city blocks. There are also huge ice sculptures, ski jump competitions and live music performances.

My favourite site is the Tsudome site, where you can play on various kinds of slides, go snow rafting, build snowmen and ride a miniature steam train.

Best places to eat

The food at the festival is delicious. Many of the local farmers and fishermen take their families to Sapporo to serve their best catch and family recipes.

However, I have to say I was most impressed by the breakfast at Nijo Market (Minami 3 Higashi 2, Chuo ward, Sapporo, Hokkaido, tel: +81-11-222-5308, open daily from 7am to 6pm).

I had read that breakfast there was an absolute must, and now I know why. It is a seafood market that stretches across several blocks in the city, and about a 15-minute walk from the Cross Hotel. Weaving through the various indoor and outdoor stalls, you'll find some of the largest crabs and scallops you've ever seen.

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